8 French know-hows to offer for Christmas

Creating your own perfume, cooking eggs, making jewellery or emulsifying choux pastry... How about an initiation to know-how for Christmas? Cooking classes given by top chefs, ceramic cafés run by potters or perfume creation workshops under the aegis of a nose, the French art of living is on display at the foot of the Christmas tree.

Getting behind the stove with a chef

Playing the "Top Chef" for the duration of a workshop? Here is a gift that will delight foodistas and other gourmets, to be selected from an offer as abundant as the recipes of the French regions. Learn how to cook eggs en meurette and entrecote béarnaise in Bordeaux, sunny dishes in the style of market cuisine in Nice, or organic recipes in Paris, there is something for everyone! With the Alain Ducasse School cooking classes, you can alternate styles: "festive days", "traditional cuisine", or "bistro cuisine" with the flavours of the Basque Country, Corsica, Savoy, Normandy or Brittany. And as a good meal in France cannot do without it, you will also learn the essential gestures for kneading baguette and other breads, blending wines or brewing beer with Wecandoo or making small cheeses with Les Raffineurs!

Alain Ducasse cooking school (External link)
Organic cooking workshop in Paris Funbooker (french website) (External link)
Wecandoo Gastronomy Workshops (french website) (External link)
Les Raffineurs Cheese Making Workshop (french website) (External link)

Creating your own perfume with a nose

Nothing is more personal than a perfume. Especially when you create it yourself! An "exhilarating initiation", a "dizzying discovery", or an "intoxicating composition" are on the programme of the Galimard workshops in Grasse and Eze-village, on the Côte d'Azur, the stronghold of high perfumery in France. Under the guidance of a nose, one sails through the 127 essences of the organ, before composing a fragrance with his name on it. At Fragonard, you can try your hand at the magic of scents while designing your own eau de Cologne.

Molinard, another great perfume house, also spreads its know-how in Nice and Paris with workshops, open to children, such as the one for the little perfumer from 4 to 8 years old. There is no age limit for making your own "smell-good"! And for an original mix of floral notes and more rustic fragrances, combine perfume creation and an organic-fair trade aperitif in Lyon with Les Curieux!

Galimard (External link)
Fragonard (External link)
Molinard (External link)
Les Curieux (french website) (External link)

Making a handbag with a leather craftsman

Find a bag that fits? The best way is to make it yourself! As long as you know the basics of the art of working with leather. Cutting, assembling, fitting the chain... In Bordeaux, with the Atelier de Luce, a leather craftsman, you can make a chic clutch bag to match your festive outfits in two hours or a "purse" bag in three hours. At La Patine, in the heart of the Daguerre artisanal city in Paris and also in Bordeaux, Diane passes on her know-how acquired at Hermès: will you be able to make the "saddle stitch", the ultimate in hand sewing? As with Le Pigeon Coq in Paris and Lyon, the other secret is the use of recycled leather for greater durability: offcuts or dormant stocks from leather goods companies or the fashion industry.

Atelier Luce (French website) (External link)
Le Pigeon Coq (French website) (External link)
La Patine (French website) (External link)

Getting hands-on with a pastry chef

Do your friends and family melt in front of a macaroon or a Paris-Brest? Offer them a course to learn the delicate art of choux pastry or ganache! With Philippe Conticini's Taste Workshops, in his laboratories in Gennevilliers, near Paris, or in the regions, you can learn how to better work with flavours and textures in the company of the father of the reinvention of classic desserts! At Christophe Michalak's, you can let your taste buds guide you, "all chocolate", "praline" or "choux pastry" to choose your theme and watch the great chef or his chefs execute a few delights to reproduce.

To get your hands on the pastry for real, head for Le Chef en box L'Atelier, courses given by experienced pastry chefs who have worked in Cyril Lignac's kitchens: Forêt noire or Saint-Honoré will no longer hold any secrets. At Bogato, you can enjoy a sweet interlude with your family with a parent-child duo workshop, before setting off on a tour of France's sweet delights. With Wecandoo, you can bake cannelés and Basque cakes in Bordeaux and Lyon... enough to perfume the house!

Workshops with Philippe Conticini (French website) (External link)
Christophe Michalak (French website) (External link)
Bogato (French website) (External link)
Cannelés workshop in Bordeaux with Wecandoo (French website) (External link)

Colouring your silk square with a board or a brush

Between Lyon and silk there is a long history, nourished by centuries of expertise. The Soierie Vivante association, which is involved in preserving Lyon's silk heritage, offers introductions to silk looms in one of the last silk workshops in the Croix-Rousse district. You can try your hand at a technique that has been used since the 17th century: printing on a block to make your own scarf. You choose your colours and then your patterns, and then it's off for three hours of meticulous work: you have to superimpose several plates, each corresponding to a colour, to make the designs!
We take the opportunity to visit the Maison Brochier silk workshop,
which has been awarded the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label.

In the workshops of Les Artisanes, in Lille, it is with a brush that one decorates scarves or small paintings. And at Caroline's in the Ménilmontant district of Paris, you can learn to screen-print and dye silk with natural products: onion, red cabbage or avocado!

Silk workshop with Soierie Vivante (External link)
Visit the Silk Workshop (Brochier Soieries) (External link)
Les Artisanes à Lille (External link)
Initiation to vegetable dyeing on silk in Paris at Wecandoo (External link)

Introduction to wickerwork with a professional wickerworker

Did you know that basketry is an ancestral skill in France? In the small village of Villaine-Les-Rochers near Azay-le-Rideau, in the Loire Valley, wickerworkers have been weaving wicker since the Middle Ages, making hot-air balloon gondolas, furniture and even bags for Hermès! To make your own shopping bag or weave your own Christmas decorations, you can sign up for the Les paniers d'Hélène workshops, which have taken over the family troglodytic farm, or you can go to Dry, between Blois and Orléans, to knit birdhouses or garden baskets in Marie-Jo's workshop. But basketry is also a tradition throughout France: in the heart of the Brocéliande forest, between Rennes and Vannes, in Brittany, Véronique reveals some of her secrets.

Hélène's baskets near Azay-le-Rideau, in the Loire Valley (French website) (External link)
Marie-Jo's workshop near Blois (French website) (External link)
Basketry workshop in Brittany (French Website) (External link)

Discover the secrets of jewellery with an art jeweller in Paris

Watching molten enamel powder take on 1001 shades of colour before being transformed into an art jewel. This is one of the experiences offered by the Ecole des Arts Joailliers created by Van Cleef & Arpels. Choose the powders, crush the raw material, learn the secrets of metal engraving and offer yourself your own jewel for Christmas. Guided by a master enameller, you will make a butterfly jewel in 4 hours ready to fly!, you will learn everything about this material, which was so popular in Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

In Mona's creation workshop, in the heart of the Marais, or at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, you can learn the skills of art jewellers in pairs: drawing, cutting, polishing the stone... with a meal and a bottle of French wine as a bonus: art too!

Learn about jewellery at the Van Cleef & Arpels School of Jewellery Arts (External link)
Creating a luxury jewel at the Ateliers de Mona, in Paris (French website) (External link)

Learn ceramics in a jiffy

Enjoying an aperitif (in moderation) with friends while learning about the art of ceramics? This is the strange concept of ceramic cafés, which are both meeting places and workshops. At Atelier Geneviève, which has opened two "ceramics cafés" in Paris, in the 11th and 14th arrondissements, you can nibble on vegan dishes or gourmet platters accompanied by organic teas and wines while wielding a paintbrush or learning to turn a pottery wheel with certified ceramists. At La Papoterie, in the 11th arrondissement, you can have brunch on Sundays and chat every other day.

You can also concentrate on modelling or throwing at the Atelier Jeux de mains in Paris, or explore other combinations: with the tutorials at Les rêveries d'Hercule, a ceramics/tea room in Toulouse, in the Occitanie region of France, you can have an after-tea and perfect your skills at home!

L'Atelier Geneviève (French website) (External link)
La Papoterie (French website) (External link)
Les rêveries d'Hercule (French website) (External link)